The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Natures Billboard …
February 28, 2011, 6:42 am
Filed under: Comment

So the pic above is of a sunset I experienced in Sydney last week.

Beautiful isn’t it.

Sure the skyline adds to it – plus I was back in my old town and eating a nice dinner with some dear friends when I saw it – however the overall impact is conversation stopping.

The reason I mention this is that when I was judging the awards last week, I was quite disappointed at how many of the submitted “ideas” were nothing more than exercises in un-natural excessiveness.

Seriously, Michael Bay and KISS couldn’t have gone more over-the-top than some of the entries.

The thing that bothered me was that if you stripped back some of the executions, there were some glorious ideas just screaming to be let out … but no … in an attempt to be seen as “creative”, some agency folk had felt compelled to smother them in layers of sponsored jokes and/or overly complex story lines to probably justify their creative creds to their peers or to themselves.

Depressing huh?

I’ve often said adland needs to stop looking at other agencies as their competitors and look at companies like Apple and Google, but despite those 2 organisations consistently producing more widely adopted – and arguably more creative – ideas than the whole of adland combined, too many agency folk feel a 30″ piece of contrived storyline is the pinnacle of creativity.

Thank god not everyone is like that.

The best idea of the whole awards – one that I was very proud and happy to learn came from my mentor’s agency, Happy Soldiers – was for a pillow company.

Yes, a pillow company.

Let’s be honest, pillows aren’t exactly top-of-mindand because of that, people don’t change them nearly as often as they should or as they could.

There’s a bunch of reasons for this, but one of the main ones is that once a pillow case goes on, any concerns about how old it might be, goes off.

This is where Happy Soldiers come in.

Instead of doing ads that feature scare tactics, they came up with the idea of getting their client to print a “Best Change By Date” on each and every pillow.

That’s it.

How fucking brilliant is that?!

Suddenly people would know exactly when they have to change their pillow because it’s in their face.

Not only that, but because this pillow company is – for now – the only one that offers this service, customers are more likely to buy another one from them than any other competitor.

In short – and as I banged on about last week – instead of going straight to an ad, Happy Soldiers came up with an idea that actually solved the problem and then did advertising to amplify it to the masses.

Advertising that truly works.

The thing is, this idea – from a client perspective – had major implications.

Not only did it mean they had to change the manufacturing process to enable them to print dates on each pillow, they also had to re-look at how they manage their inventory … however because the idea was built on creating genuine and decisive action [ie: a real insight] the client happily took on all the challenges and is now sitting back, watching their business enjoy double-digit growth.

And here’s the ‘moral’ to the story.

A great idea is a bit like a sunset: effortless, simple, beautiful and captivating …

It is something that will make people stop in amazement … it will make clients take on internal challenges … it will get people spreading the word … which is why if you are coming up with stuff that takes 10 minutes or more to explain – or worse, just talks about a storyline rather than addresses the real issue – then ultimately all you’re dealing in is confusion and you have no one else to blame other than yourself.

27 Comments so far
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Love this.

Here’s the case I think Rob’s talking about if anybody wants to see it :

Getting the client to say ‘Happy Soldiers’ came up with the idea is a nice way to avoid the ‘but aren’t they simply taking credit for something they helped advertise?’ type questions.

AKQA should’ve thought of that for the eco:Drive case 🙂

Comment by Rafik

fighting talk rafik. youre fine though, campbells an iti, they dont do fighting. have a feeling the pillow idea is more likely to have come from the agency than the client which I fucking doubt happened with akqa but thats campbells fight, i couldnt give a shit except for the one im going to have now.

Comment by andy@cynic

I’m actually finding myself to be leaning towards Rob’s opinion more and more ever since he’d mentioned it. I think I’ll put Rei on the spot when I see him next month.

Still, it was a nice case of anticipating the audience’s cynicism by HS.

Comment by Rafik

Hahaha, nice dig there Rafik … the difference is that Happy Soldiers literally did convince the client to do that.

This was a company that had been around for many years and had never seen this possibility and let’s face it, while it has added some implications to how they conduct their business, the level of investment is no where near what AKQA’s would have been – hence my questioning whether they actually came up with the idea, or the website.

Comment by Rob

yeah you look like you were really fucking killing yourself with workload last week. shithead. only a fucking planner could post rationalise a pissy sunset as some guide to fucking making good ideas and even though i fucking detest the analogy it makes some sort of twisted sense but thats only because i know the fucking bullshit that gets passed off as answering the brief.

the best bit about this post is the pillow idea. dont need no ads for that fucking magic and i know it will bug the fucking crap out of you as you try and work out if youd of come up with it in a similar situation. the answers “no” but i fucking would. take it you mean mr south african came up with it. he didnt train you well enough did he.

off to have a sunset shit. itll be fucking perfect.

Comment by andy@cynic

Thanks for the image Andy … lovely.

Comment by Rob

Are pillows a euphemism for tits?

A stamp saying when they should be changed would be very useful.

Comment by Billy Whizz

especially in la.

Comment by andy@cynic

You’d never see them anyway Billy!

Comment by Rob

Perfect example of one of the points you made last week…

Solve the problem first.
Use ads to communicate the solution/s.


Comment by Age

you fucking creep. and from what i hear theres no fucking point doing that any more as youre already in. making a comment on campbells blog might be the best career move since angelinas first adopted kid looked at her and smiled. whens it all happening mr fucking ad parasite? well done, especially not being in campbells direct clutches. smart fucking move that.

Comment by andy@cynic

LOL, thanks Andy… I think 😉

Comment by Age

after reading this,i can happily sigh contentedly. not just because i just had an excellent cup of tea. and not only because of that smashing sunset, or the fond memory of taking up couch space next to you talking about this kind of stuff, but because when you post stuff like this, i get the chance to not be such a fucking whinge about advertising all the time.

it reminds me that good business and artful thinking is a fucking hott hook-up.

this post and its ideas (and it being quite typical of your way of working) is exactly why i end up here day after day, hoping for a glimpse of sense like this.

and you know what i find kinda funny about all the other stuff that passes for greatness in adland? a bang-on idea like this is probably the kind of thing you all strive for. what fills up the rest of the timesheets seems like a desperate attempt to decorate not achieving it.

Comment by lauren

did campbell drug you?

Comment by andy@cynic

Well I did buy her a coffee!

Comment by Rob

Hi Lauren – and thank you for the niceness.

I’m glad you get what I mean because I have a funny feeling there’s a lot of people out there who won’t get what I’m talking about … people who can’t come to terms that sometimes [most times?] an ad is not a solution and should just be the amplification of the solution.

The pillows idea is awesome. I love it and am jealous of it. If AKQA really did come up with the concept of an ‘eco car that can have data reviewed in realtime’, then I’d be impressed with that too … however I don’t think they did and I still don’t think it answers the issue as beautifully simply as the pillow campaign.

Sure they’re very different briefs, but as I said – I genuinely believe that when you get a great answer, they come across so simply that you wonder why no one had ever come with it before … which often translates to clients wanting to pay you less because it’s so “in your face” they question the value of what you added, when the reality is they have not seen it despite being in business for 20, 30, 40 years etc.

As I said in Sydney, I genuinely believe adland is better placed to help business than many other companies/categories and if we get back to what we’re brilliant at [understanding people, seeing solutions for problems and creating communication that amplifies these ideas to the masses] we could get back to the board room table … however if we continue to pretend ads can solve all, we’re going to carry on down our slippery slope and we’ll ultimately have no one else to blame but ourselves.

Comment by Rob

if they’re tryig to pay less, doesn’t that mean the payment model isn’t suited? if the $ value of the idea is pitched correctly, in theory, payment should be a non-issue. or maybe i’m a naive socialist type again

Comment by lauren

You’re right Lauren. The cynic model [based on a royalty] worked very well for us – though it also meant a nightmare of a legal contract plus the upfront costs were far less than most agencies would accept. Mind you, we also ended up doing more interesting things than many agencies who want massive cash for unproven ideas – or worse – ideas where they think their involvement ends once they’ve handed over the doco.

Comment by Rob

Isn’t an eco car an oxymoron?

Comment by Charles

Tell AKQA that …

Comment by Rob

A lovely idea, that.

Comment by Will

you might be on to something here campbell. i had a fucking awesome shit last night and it made everything much clearer.

Comment by andy@cynic

There are a couple of things I would have tried to push which spin around product, if I were a happy soldier.
I have to disagree about not using fear or scare tactics. It does use fear. The ad at least. But it is gross to sleep on the same pillow without giving it a wash for two years. Interesting they used ‘green’ (fresh, I know) and “eco-system”. Frame of reference? After all it’s plastic and they ask you to throw it out and buy a new one? If you hadn’t noticed, I am not slagging it off. Good idea. But why stop there. Wrong question if others don’t even go that far. Not slagging it off, as said above.

Comment by Evolution

Terrific idea but I dont think it’s advertising.

Comment by john

what the fuck is it doddsy? product innovation? marketing? come on, show how old school adguy you are.

Comment by andy@cynic

It’s something the client should have come up with themselves.

Comment by john

maybe but thats the fucking attitude that stops adland developing anything beyond a fucking ad.

Comment by andy@cynic

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